Cowin, Cannon, Yates and Savoie qualify at the top at Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals. MADISON, Ill. - For the first time since the 1999 U.S. Nationals, Larry Dixon will not be racing on Sunday. The Top Fuel points leader failed to qualify on ...
Cowin, Cannon, Yates and Savoie qualify at the top at Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals.
MADISON, Ill. - For the first time since the 1999 U.S. Nationals, Larry Dixon will not be racing on Sunday. The Top Fuel points leader failed to qualify on Saturday at the sixth annual Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway.
Dixon is the winner of seven national events this season and has earned the No. 1 qualifying position six times. After four qualifying sessions, Dixon failed to make the 16-car field.
Andrew Cowin, Scotty Cannon, Jim Yates and Angelle Savoie led their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the 12th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Dixon has such a large point lead in the standings that even if second-place Kenny Bernstein wins the race, Dixon would still have a 157-point lead.
"Fortunately, we still have the points lead," Dixon said. "But we can never have too big of a lead in the points. I'm thoroughly disappointed because we are not going to be racing tomorrow. Everyone worked very hard but we just didn't get it done.
"We had four qualifying runs and this is the NHRA, and we don't have provisionals. If we can't get it done in four runs, we don't deserve it."
Cowin earned his second career No. 1 qualifying position with a 4.635 pass at 319.75 in the NY Yankee Dragster. Cowin's first top qualifier came at the season opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., in February. The team has won just won round, however, compiling a 1-10 record in Top Fuel eliminations.
"The (old) tire really picked on this dragster," Cowin said. "This car has a lot of horsepower and the new tire and our crew chief Mike Green are really helping. Our crew is doing a fantastic job and hopefully we can put together four good runs tomorrow and get a win.
"It's going to be hot tomorrow and I think low to mid 4.70s will get the job done. We're hoping to be more consistent. All we need is four runs. That's only one mile to a win."
Cannon drove his Oakley Pontiac Firebird to a 4.964-second run at 302.14 seconds to become the No. 1 qualifier in the Funny Car category for the first time in his career. Cannon, the 1999 Rookie of the Year, has yet to earn a victory, and is not ready to celebrate this milestone either.
"We've had a good car all year but we have missed opportunities," Cannon said. "My hat is off to this team and to (crew chief) Mike Neff for making all the right calls. It feels good, but I've been the No. 1 qualifier during my Pro Mod career and if there is one thing I have learned, it's not to celebrate early.
"The No. 16 guy can win just as easily as the No. 1 guy. The trick here is just getting down the track. So I am trying to stay in the middle of the road. The time to celebrate is Sunday night."
Yates continued his qualifying streak, earning the No. 1 spot for the fifth consecutive race, and sixth of the season. Yates drove his SplitFire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am to a 6.848 pass at 200.59 to pace the Pro Stock category. The time was a track record. This is the 27th time Yates has gone into eliminations with the quickest time in qualifying.
"The track is hot. It's very slick out there," Yates said. "We are happy to qualify No. 1 again, but we didn't come here to qualify at the top, we came here to win."
Savoie earned her 28th career No. 1 qualifier and fourth of the season with a track record elapsed time run of 7.171 at 187.05 on her CVEC Suzuki to lead the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
"I love this race track," Savoie said. "I don't remember it being this smooth. Anytime you don't have to worry about the bumps and dips or grooves, that allows me to concentrate on just taking a smooth, straight trip down the track.
"As far as the performance on this CVEC Suzuki, I really don't understand why we are doing as well as we are. The competition is awesome and I would prefer to dominate and win all of the races, but it's more exciting having so many good competitors."
Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.